It’s not just ‘boys will be boys’

When you have kids — especially, but not exclusively boys — you learn some things pretty quick. And one of the things you learn is boys will be boys. They just will.

I have lots of friends who have only daughters and they tell amazing stories of blood-curdling screaming episodes over clothes being borrowed without permission and other such crimes against humanity.

(In our experience I can’t think of a single occasion where either of our boys borrowed clothes from the other, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

With all kids — and I think especially, but not exclusively boys — a challenge is not just teaching respect, but making it part of their DNA. I say “especially” boys only because I know women have a larger hill to climb in terms of equality and respect in all its forms. As we have learned recently, there are still big problems.

Which is why the situation at Dalhousie University is so troubling. Continue reading


PEI has always held a special place in our hearts. I realize a lot of my readers will have never been there but take my word for it, you want to add it to your bucket list.

It’s a place where it seems time stopped — the kitschy road-side  amusements of the 1960s and 70s — mini-putt and Santa’s Village and the like — still endure on The Island, but not in such numbers as to detract from the natural beauty of the place.

The people have a quiet way of life and nothing much seems to change much. Flying into Charlottetown you can see in one eyeful what makes the economy run — fishing, farming (dairy and potatoes) and tourism — specifically golf and beaches.

As a family we’ve spent a couple portions of vacations on The Island — Chris used to call it PPI when he was young and cute and in addition to Cavendish Beach and fried clams it was where we all learned the basics of the water slide, at the now defunct Rainbow Valley.

Late last month, Pad and the Dal hockey team played a road game against UPEI, except the game wasn’t in Charlottetown, it was in Montague — a small town not far away (nothing in PEI is far away). We watched the game on TV off the internet and while the announcers kept referencing a tragedy in the community and a fundraiser, they never spelled it out. Continue reading

Weekend bits and pieces

I had one of those moments on the weekend that serves as a reminder to slow down, breathe a little, and be grateful for what you have.

I was in a line of vehicles waiting to exit the Dorval plaza at North Service Road — the one with the Metro.

As I waited for the traffic to move I saw this man walking carefully along the sidewalk, tapping the path in front of him with a white cane. He was probably blind, but if not completely so he was significantly impaired visually.

The vehicle two in front of me made the decision to scoot out before the man reached the driveway crossing. Then the second car in front of me pulled ahead and just stopped. And waited.

I’m assuming the man knew the car was there because he didn’t move either. And also, since he didn’t look at all like Kreskin, he likely had no idea what the driver was thinking. After about 10 seconds, the second car proceeded into traffic. The man didn’t move. Continue reading

Short snappers . . .

Another installment in the continuing series. Please hold your applause until all shorts have been duly snappered.

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Snow. In December. It’s nuts, I tell ya. OK. It wasn’t that nuts but I assumed it would be so I left the house about 15 minutes earlier than normal and pretty much no one else did, so far as I could tell.

Mind you I was only driving to the GO station, but there was no traffic on the slick, slushy, greasy streets which had not yet graduated treacherous.

This storm system as a bit of an odd one in that it attacked Toronto from the southeast. Virtually every storm we ever get comes from the west or south west. So as my on-time train (no worries GO, transit, the train was late by the time we hit Union Station) chugged to Toronto the weather got worst. Continue reading

Just press play

An executive summary into a fairly deep investigation of torture practices by the US government was released on Tuesday. I am ashamed to say I’m more or less numb to it.

Were the portions of the report that were released worse than I thought? I have to say they were  not. I expected bad, and God Bless America, it delivered.

Do I think people in positions to influence things going forward feel bad about this? Well, I’m sure some do. But torturer-in-chief from the Bush era, Dick Cheney, was sitting in a mud hut in Wyoming biting the heads off doves and spitting them into a bucket across the room when he was contacted by reporters.

He said the people who conducted the torture should be decorated, not vilified. That view was not widely shared among GOP in Congress — Sen. John McCain (himself a victim of torture in Vietnam — said torture is unacceptable.

It’s all out there for the reading and you are smart people. Make of it what you will. We have all watched 24 on TV and now we know that some of those things Jack Bauer did weren’t just conjured out of thin air. Continue reading

The best laid plans

Junior hockey teams are also community hockey teams in many cases and the people running many of those teams work pretty hard to engage the community.

One reason for this is to build bridges that turn into fan support, which means people coming to the rink and spending money and creating a fun atmosphere. It’s harder than it sounds, especially in southern Ontario where the competition for the entertainment dollar is steep.

For example, in the Ontario junior A loop, teams are lucky to draw 300 fans. Some — like the Blades — do a little better. Some — like any of the Toronto-based teams — are lucky to get 100 out. That would be parents and girlfriends.

When our guy played out west last winter, it was a different world, as I have mentioned here before. Typically the junior A teams draw from 1,000 to 2,500 depending on the team, the community and the facility. The revenue from a gate like that at $12 or $14 a head allows the teams to operate at a level more akin to major junior, and they recruit widely for the best players and treat them far more generously than Ontario teams can or do. Continue reading

And so it is Christmas

Upon reflection, extending a ladder and climbing on the roof to string Christmas light was the easy part of the job. The real work is just beginning.

I commented last night that I felt like every day between now and Christmas should be like a Saturday. No one has to get up early. You can stay up late, have a beer, eat decadently, etc. Laura vetoed it on the grounds that we would all be fat and drunk from the next three weeks. And that won’t do because we need to decorate.

I think it is a function of biology that humans tend to forget certain things — child birth, cheering for the Leafs — so that when the time comes to do them again, the challenge seems entirely reasonable.

I would put holiday decorating in that category.

Once upon a time, we would tackle almost all of it in a single day. A day full of Christmas music, festive decor, heavy boxes of “stuff” and a lot of weary resignation.

We’re smarter now. Or at least Laura is. Nothing happens all at once. Continue reading

The rise of the machines

 “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth . . .  Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

What stirs the 12-year-old you? There are a lot of answers to that question but I’m going to go with human space flight.

The lines above are the famous first and last lines of the poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, an American aviator who died — in an air accident — in 1941. I marvel at what he would have thought today witnessing the launch of the Orion rocket.

I wish I knew more about math and space and thermodynamics and lift and thrust and all the wild acronyms that congeal inside a pristine bowl into things like the Delta IV heavy lift rocket. But I don’t. So I’m just a fan. But I appreciate the wonder and the miracle of the technology.

I am physically incapable of NOT watching a rocket launch and today’s was a doozy. The Orion and the Delta IV are impressive and powerful though not the monster that the old Saturn V was.

Walter Cronkite famously spoke of going to Florida to watch the Apollo 4 launch — like today’s Orion mission, an unmanned test flight — and the CBS remote studio near Cape Canaveral literally started to fall apart from violence of the turbulence and sound created by the massive Saturn V a mile or more away, still the largest and most powerful rocket in history. Continue reading


It’s well known that I’m a hockey fan and (regrettably much of the time) a Leaf fan.

But I was genuinely saddened this week to hear of the death of Jean Beliveau. And I mean that sincerely. I feel genuine sadness that a man who was so beloved is gone.

For me to say that . . . I may not be the most cynical guy in the world, but I would make most people’s short lists. Beliveau was a great player, a champion and a beloved and generous member of the community off the ice. He may have been Les Canadiens, but he was a symbol of what all Canadians see as our best traits.

Social media was swamped with tributes from the great and the ordinary yesterday.

The best one I heard was from someone who said their dad was a Leaf fan and Beliveau was the only Hab he couldn’t hate. I thought that was perfect.

I won’t go on and on because there’s lots of great reading out there on the man and his remarkable life. Continue reading

Culture: more than just yogurt

As a manager I’ve learned a lot from some other good managers and executives and from good union leaders and staff opinion leaders, too. I listen to all of them, incorporate the best thinking into how I go about my job and try to be fair to everyone.

Sounds simple, but it’s not. Lots of companies that should know better, or who at the very least have the resources to address corporate cultural shortcomings, fall way short.

Like airlines. Canadians love to complain about lousy airline service and there’s no doubt airlines bring a lot of grief upon themselves.

And Canada Post. I sent a parcel to Halifax last week (actually, sent it on my behalf.) The online tracking via Canada Post told me the package went from Mississauga to Montreal to Halifax to Mississauga to Halifax. I mean, come on. Really? Continue reading


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